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Yes, of course, CEQA hampers development and affordable housing

By in Press Enterprise on January 9, 2018

By Adam Summers

Basic economics and logic teaches us that if you make something more costly to produce, less of it will be produced. But Democratic legislators in Sacramento seem to think that this simple rule does not apply to housing or other development projects.

The Senate Environmental Quality Committee recently commissioned a study to look at the effects of the California Environmental Quality Act on state projects. The survey of 94 state agencies found that 1.3 percent required the preparation of a detailed environmental impact report, an additional 6.2 percent were determined to not have a significant effect on the environment (though this still required the preparation of an initial study and a period of governmental review and approval), and less than 1 percent of projects faced CEQA lawsuits.

So, case closed, CEQA is not a significant burden and there is nothing to see here, right? Not so fast. The report did not look at private-sector projects, including housing projects, which are the most frequent target of CEQA lawsuits. And it ignores the fact that the Legislature has a habit of streamlining the CEQA process or carving out exemptions for their pet projects, or those of politically-connected developers, such as the $1.3 billion project to renovate or replace the Capitol annex building or arenas for professional sports teams like the Sacramento Kings and Golden State Warriors basketball teams.

Nor does the report address all the developments that were scaled down, delayed or killed off altogether by the mere threat of a CEQA lawsuit, or how many potential projects were never undertaken at all because of the uncertainty and bureaucratic time and cost hurdles that CEQA imposes.

CEQA is notorious for its abusive “greenmail” lawsuits filed by those who oppose development projects for reasons that have nothing to do with the environment. A 2015 study by law […]    

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